About Net Zero

Scotland led the world in becoming one of the first nations to declare a global climate emergency in April 2019. The need to take action to tackle climate change is more urgent than ever. So, as part of the global effort to fight the climate emergency Scotland has set an ambitious target to become 'Net Zero' by 2045, five years ahead of the rest of the UK. 

What is 'Net Zero?'


'Net Zero' means the amount of greenhouse gas emissions we put into the atmosphere and the amount we’re able to take out will add up to zero. Our first step is to reduce emissions by changing our actions and processes, but not all emissions can be avoided. To get to net zero any emissions we create would be balanced by schemes that offset the same amount of greenhouse gases entering the atmosphere, for example by planting trees, restoring peatland or using technology like carbon capture and storage. Reaching net zero is key to tackling the global climate emergency, as well as the changes we need to make now because of the ongoing effects of climate change. 

Being 'Net Zero' will help transform the way we live for the better, making Scotland a healthier, cleaner, safer, fairer place for us and for generations to come. We must all act now to achieve it.
Scotland plans to reach net zero by 2045. We're one of the first countries to set this ambitious target and have the drive, resources and passion to achieve it. We'll do this in a way that's fair and inclusive to everyone in society, making sure no one is left behind - this is known as a 'just transition'.
Now is the time to step up our fight for the protection of our planet and to create a cleaner, healthier, safer and fairer Scotland for us all and for generations to come. 

The Climate Emergency


Climate change is one of the biggest threats facing mankind. The issue is referred to as the ‘Global Climate Emergency’ because the rate at which greenhouse gas emissions are happening is unsustainable and the damage could become irreversible if we don’t act immediately. 

If global temperature continue to rise at the same rate as they have been, the increase in heat will drive regional and seasonal temperature extremes, reduce snow cover and sea ice, intensify heavy rainfall, and change or destroy habitat ranges for plants and animals, changing our planet in ways that’ll affect us all significantly. In Scotland, we’re already seeing the impacts. Over the past few years we’ve experienced summer heatwaves, flooding and extremely high winter temperatures. The climate emergency is already on our doorstep.  



If we do nothing

If we don’t take action to reduce emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change, there will be more…. 

Similarly, coronavirus is a global crisis that has transformed many aspects of our lives. But it can also be a historic turning point in tackling the global climate emergency as it’s shown us that it’s possible to make big and immediate changes to the way we live. For some, we’ve changed how we travel and are walking, wheeling and cycling more than ever. For others we’re now working from home instead of the office, no longer needing to commute. We must build on this and learn from the changes we’ve made already as we pull together to save the planet.

As many individuals and organisations respond to the challenges of coronavirus, it gives us the opportunity to rethink our society and economy. We can start to build back a better world, to make this a 'Green Recovery' that creates opportunities and jobs for Scotland's people.

The time to change is now and Scotland is ready not only to act, but to lead the way.

A pair of hands holding a globe

How can we tackle it?


Firstly, we must recognise that climate change is something we need to tackle together – we can all make a difference. 

Together, reaching net zero will be key to tackling the global climate emergency, but we also have to be prepared to make changes now due to the ongoing effects of climate change. In Scotland our climate is already changing - we're seeing more warming, more extreme weather events and rising sea levels.

But we're no stranger to leading the way, pioneering new solutions and taking action. Reaching net zero means we'll have to change the way we live our lives, now and in the future. The scale of change will be unprecedented but by working together, supporting each other and all getting involved - government, organisations and individuals alike - we'll tackle climate change and reach our net zero target together.

Find out more about adapting to climate change.


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